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Community Development

Though timber remained the coast’s primary industry and economic force, the development of the Coast Highway quickly expanded community development and economic growth. Highway spokespersons promised wealth and success for Oregon’s increasingly important coastal region. The Highway Commission stated that “This highway is of tremendous importance to all of Western Oregon, and although in its present practically competed state, it is rendering a great and valuable service, it cannot, until its last link is completed, bring to the State the full return of development and prosperity, pleasure and profit which will inevitably follow its opening to through traffic.”348

The highway’s scenic qualities were closely linked to tourist travel. Governor Olcott addressed the importance of scenic preservation measured against the lasting effects of timber clear-cutting in his 1921 message on scenic beauty:

One large company, the Crown Willamette Paper Company, immediately ceased cutting of timber along the Seaside-Cannon Beach Highway in Clatsop County . . . That road probably accommodates more tourists than any other single road in the state during the summer season and on that road is demonstrated very forcibly the difference between natural timber beauties and the naked stretches left after logging operations with modern machinery have denuded the hillsides. So marked is the difference I venture to say no person passes over the road but comments upon it.349

Improved access to and along the coast conferred an immediate and enduring impact on the region’s development as a tourist economy. The region had substantial economic potential, which proved impossible to ignore. Entrepreneurs along the route began building auto campgrounds, rental cottages, general stores, gas stations, garages, hotels, eateries, and fishing and hunting resorts. The highway opened up the previously isolated Curry County for tourism, particularly to vacationing Californians who began traveling north to tour the coastline.350 Auto camping soared in popularity, and coastal towns established auto parks to accommodate travelers. In Lincoln City and the Twenty Miracle Miles, historian Anne Jobbe Hall describes the Nelscott Auto Park, established in 1927 by George and Anna Cushing along the unpaved highway.

They felled and burned trees, cleared brush, and built a campground. The auto park consisted of cottages, tent houses, auto campsites, a service station, and Community Kitchen . . . At first, auto park guests slept in their cars or set up a tent they carried in the trunk. Some ingenious souls attached homemade awnings directly to their vehicle to provide shelter. By the 1930s, there were sometimes as many as 100 tents and autos in the campground. A deluxe campsite cost 75 cents per night, while a one-bed cottage rented for $1.351

Settlements sprung up as resort communities along the Coast Highway. A 1930 report on the highway noted the recreational potential of Clatsop and Tillamook Counties. “The rugged coast scenery at Neahkahnie Mountain, Cape Falcon, and Arch Cape is unsurpassed anywhere on the Oregon Coast and at Cannon Beach, there is a flat sand beach four miles in length this is an ideal summer resort. Ecola and Cannon Beach are already well built up.”352

The coastal population grew by more than 13% between the 1920 and 1930 census. With over 65,000 people in 1930, the coastal region made up about 7% of the state’s overall population. Highway access improved the logging, fishing, and recreation economies throughout the coastal regions. The growth of industry, coastal populations, and tourism in coastal towns led to an increased demand for efficient highway transportation. The ferries at the major water crossings, many of which had operated for decades, were no longer viewed as a modern and sufficient means for travel. The ferry system particularly inhibited truck transportation, an industry that had flourished following World War II, as a direct result of the Federal Highway Act and interstate highway development. Advancements in pneumatic tires capable of withstanding heavy truck loads provided an efficient alternative to rail. As the decade closed, developments such as power-assisted brakes, six-cylinder engines, and three-axle trucks became increasingly important for safe and efficient highway transport.353

Clatsop County

The coast’s largest city was Astoria, the region’s only community with a population over 10,000. Despite its advantageous location at the convergence of the coast highway’s north end and the Columbia River Highway’s west end in Clatsop County, the city failed to reap the benefits of tourist travel during the 1920s. The Great Astoria Fire of 1922 burned the city’s business district, destroying more than 24 blocks and costing about $12 million in damages.354 Astoria’s hope for recreational tourism halted as the city worked to recover from the fire. The community rebuilt its central core almost as quickly as it was destroyed and, with state assistance, the community reconstructed its buildings and economy in just two years. The “New Astoria Reconstruction Celebration: From Ashes to Concrete,” held on July 3, 1924, honored the city’s revitalization.355 Although the city enjoyed a quick recovery, it struggled to regain its population. Between 1920 and 1930, the Census reported a 3,678 decrease in population in Astoria, a loss of over 34%.

Notwithstanding the highway’s construction, the population of other Clatsop County coastal towns stagnated. Cannon Beach had a population of 135 in 1930, Necanicum 76, and Gearhart 125. Seaside’s population was 1,565 in 1930, marking the end of the decade with a 13% decrease from 1920, spurred by the rapid economic decline following the stock market crash.

Tillamook County

Tillamook County’s overall population increased 34% during the 1920s, growing to 11,824 in 1930. The primary population center, Tillamook city, contained 2,549 residents in 1930. Approximately 1,250 people lived in Garibaldi’s fishing community, and about 800 in Nehalem.

The highway’s construction greatly extended the travel season for Willamette Valley residents visiting the resort towns in Tillamook and Lincoln County. In 1924, an important section of highway was completed from Neskowin in Tillamook County to the Siletz River in Lincoln County. The Yaquina Bay News reported that the new route would “give the first all-year road outlet that part of the county has ever seen in the past, for nine or ten months of the year.”356 Neskowin’s population nearly doubled between the 1920 and 1930 census, growing to 196 people. Rockaway grew to 403 people, five times its 1920 population. While these populations are small compared to the coast’s major urban areas, this growth showed promise for Tillamook County’s tourism economy and budding resort communities.

Lincoln County

Fishing was Lincoln County’s chief industry before the 1920s and continued to be thereafter, but fishermen experienced diminishing fish populations in in the 1920s and 1930s.357 Meanwhile, Lincoln County’s ocean beaches had become some of the state’s most popular scenic attractions. As a result, several small communities sprung up along the coast, including South Beach, Agate Beach, and Nye Creek, reporting populations for the first time in the 1930 Census. The Devil’s Lake precinct, situated in a prime location in North Lincoln County, more than doubled during the 1920s, and Yachats more than tripled near the south end of the county.

The Depoe Bay Bridge construction in 1927 spurred recreational and community development around Depoe Bay, coined the “world’s smallest harbor.” In 1932, the Depoe Bay Investment Company incorporated with plans to develop the tourist economy in Depoe Bay. The Oregonian reported that the company would erect a community house and restaurant near the north end of the bridge, would dam the bay’s southern half to improve the beach conditions for swimming and recreation, and deepen the channel under the bridge to encourage recreational boating in the harbor.358

Connecting Inland Routes

The northern coastal communities’ economic vitality heavily depended upon their accessibility from the Willamette Valley. Tourism was critically important to the coastal economies, and several towns developed primarily as resort communities with distant urban customers. Connecting highways eventually replaced the long circuitous route to the coast with more direct routes from the state’s metropolitan centers. Salmon River Road, constructed in 1926 and adopted as a state highway in 1930, and Wolf Creek Road (later Sunset Highway), adopted in 1932 and completed in 1939 provided crucial highway connections that impacted community development along the Coast Highway in Lincoln County.

The Salmon River Highway connected inland travelers from the Willamette Valley to the coast. The route passed from McMinnville through Yamhill, Polk and Lincoln counties and connected with the Coast Highway in Otis. In 1926, The Oregonian explained that the beach districts from Pacific City to Newport held new importance for the “Portlander,” bringing the beach closer to Portland.359 The Oregonian reported that the Salmon River route would also greatly benefit the old city of Newport. “When the roads are finished the beach town will be but 115 miles from Portland.”360 The article also noted that the “beach resorts of Neskowin and the newly developed sections around Devil’s lake . . . will be closer to Portland than any other beach.”361 In 1930, the Highway Commission adopted a resolution to adopt the Salmon River route as a state highway.

Two years later, in August 1932, the Highway Commission adopted the Wolf Creek Highway (U.S. Route 26/State Route 47), directly connecting Portland to the Coast Highway between Seaside and Cannon Beach. The state promoted this route as Portland’s shortest route to the sea for all coast destinations between Tillamook and Astoria362 The Oregonian reported that, to celebrate this first step in securing a shorter route, resorts at Neahkahnie and other beaches would “have bonfires ablaze on all the beaches.”363 The plan also proposed cut-off routes from the highway to Astoria, Nehalem Bay, and Tillamook. Of these junctions, the Wilson River Highway (State Route 6) was constructed between Banks and Tillamook, but existing roads were adopted as state routes from the highway to Astoria (Fishhalk Falls Highway, State Route 103), and Mohler near Nehalem Bay (Necanicum Highway, State Route 53). Highway construction lasted nearly seven years, and work was still underway when the route officially opened to the public in late June 1939.364

Lane County

Lane County witnessed considerable growth during the 1920s, growing over 40% to a population of 54,493 in 1930. However, the county’s coastal population remained minimal compared to inland, just over 1,000 people, about two percent of the county’s overall population. Population growth in Lane County’s coastal communities stagnated between 1920 and 1930. About 500 people lived in Florence, the county’s coastal population center and a vital hub for ferry travel across the Siuslaw River.

Douglas County

Reedsport and Gardiner, anchoring each side of the Umpqua River ferry crossing, remained Douglas County’s coastal population centers. These coastal communities comprised only 7% of the county’s overall population. Both communities experienced a population decline during the 1920s. In 1930, Reedsport’s population was 1,148 (an 18% decrease), and Gardiner’s was 401 (an 11% decrease). Douglas County’s coastal communities were relatively isolated from the rest of the Coast Highway, surviving from an economy based on timber, farming, orchards, and livestock, without much dependence on recreational tourism.

Coos County

The Southern Oregon Coast functioned primarily as a group of several small timber communities during the early 1920s. Lumber companies owned extensive timberlands in Coos and Curry counties. The regional economy profited from the growth of Port Orford cedar production, manufacture, and export.365 The highway’s construction brought new opportunities for the timber industry and for recreational tourism. Coos County was comprised of five urban centers, as well as several small logging communities, each with well under 1,000 people, that contributed to the county’s population of 28,000. All of the county’s major communities on the Coast Highway experienced growth during the 1920s.

Table . Coos County 1920-1930 U.S. Census Populations


1920 population

1930 population

Percentage of Growth

North Bend
















Bunker Hill




Although Bandon’s population experienced little growth over the decade, improved highway access made it a popular southern coast resort town. The 1931 Sanborn Fire Insurance map for Bandon shows the Roosevelt Highway as only a small section of diagonal road in the heart of town, connecting from arterial segments to the town at Oregon Avenue near 6th Street and Chicago Avenue near 3rd Street. The town’s early economy, centered on sawmills, cranberries, salmon canneries, shipbuilding, shifted to include tourism in the 1920s. Known as “Bandon by the Sea,” travelers drove the newly established highway system from the Willamette Valley to the popular resort town.366

Curry County

The Chetco Valley area surrounding Brookings remained geographically isolated. A portion of the Roosevelt Highway was completed between Brookings and the California border in 1924, but “the road north was primitive.”367 A 1924 highway map shows that, between Brookings and Gold Beach, only a small section near Cape Sebastian was graded with a rock or gravel surface. The rest remained unimproved. By 1928, the entire stretch from Bandon to the California border had rock or gravel surface, with an oiled macadam surface installed in the early 1930s.

Although the population centers in Curry County were relatively small compared to the rest of the coast, their growth during the 1920s was substantial compared to the county’s minimal overall growth. The county population grew only 7.6% in the 1920s, reporting a population of 3,257 in the 1930 census. However, Port Orford, Ophir, Gold Beach, and Wedderburn grew by staggering percentages. Brookings was Curry County’s only coastal town that experienced a population decline during this period.

Table . Curry County 1920-1930 U.S. Census Populations


1920 population

1930 population

Percentage of Growth

Port Orford
















Gold Beach




The Brookings Timber and Lumber Company, later the California and Oregon (C. & O.) Lumber Company, operated a company town in Brookings, but sold its residential and commercial structures to local residents and closed the mill in 1925.368 With the loss of this major employer, transportation access to other regions became critical to the region’s economic survival.369 Many Brookings’ residents left and the company sold most of the industrial infrastructure as salvage. The region’s economy became dependent on farming, and ultimately blossomed with the development of the lily bulb industry.370

The Stock Market Crash of 1929

Despite the region’s recreational tourism and economic growth during the 1920s, the period ended with the 1929 stock market crash and the beginning of The Great Depression. Local economies plunged. People could not afford to travel and local industries were devastated by the lack of demand for materials. Historian Gail Wells describes the economic impact of The Great Depression on the coastal region: “When the crash of 1929 sent the nation’s economy into free fall, the extractive industries that were the backbone of the coastal economy suffered as the nationwide malaise curtailed industrial production and domestic spending.”371 Timber, fishing, farming, and mining suffered from plummeting markets.372 “Between 1929 and 1932 lumber exports were cut in half. The salmon pack declined by 120 million pounds. Employment in production industries dropped by more than one-third: for every one hundred Oregon workers who had been employed in 1929, there were sixty-three in 1933.”373 The Oregon coast had become a “place of idled mills, mines, and factories, unemployed workers, and families in need.”374


The 1920s witnessed a major nationwide movement calling for state parks systems. The 1921 National Conference on State Parks, organized by Stephen T. Mather, the National Park Service’s first director, convened in Des Moines, Iowa. Rebecca Conard described the event in The George Wright Forum:375 “Mather’s reason for promoting a state park organization was fairly transparent. The Park Service was inundated with requests for creating national parks in areas that he and his staff felt were ‘more of local interest.’”376 The National Conference on State Parks “emerged as the most important forum for debating ideological as well as administrative issues of park development and management. “377 Conference attendees included representatives from the few existing state conservation departments or park boards, municipal park administrators, prominent natural scientists and landscape architects, and representatives from a wide range of community and advocacy organizations and civic leagues.378 State Parks were regarded not only as recreational locations, but as a medium for protecting areas representative of conservation issues, although tourism quickly emerged as tool to cultivate public support. Officials began to promote state parks adjacent to principal highways as a method of increasing automobile tourism and thereby stimulating the state economy.379 State Parks development had to meet the demand for picnic grounds, bathing and boating area and other outdoor recreation facilities intensively used by the public.380

The state park movement attracted diverse interests. According to Conard, “One powerful constituency considered outdoor recreation to be the primary function of state parks. In large part this view was shaped not only to the increasing affordability of automobiles, but to the increasing availability of leisure time among a growing middle class.”381 Others viewed state parks as way to link natural resource conservation with public health and social reform.382 The state parks movement also motivated natural scientists interested in protecting plant and wildlife species and landform types, and provoked landscape architects to campaign for state parks as natural area preserves.383 Places that conveyed aspects of natural or cultural history were also incorporated into the state parks discussion.384

Delegates of the 1921 conference acknowledged that:

  • Public parks were necessary for patriotism, human and social health, business and civic life.

  • Parks should provide recreational opportunities but also preserve wildlife, natural areas, and various land types.

  • Historic sites and trails should be marked and preserved as public parks or monuments, and maintained for instruction and inspiration

  • Public parks should be within easy access of all people

  • Inter-city, inter-state and national park highways were desired.385

As the state parks movement continued throughout the 1920s, two primary park functions emerged: preserving natural scenery and providing for outdoor recreation. Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. addressed the state park role in conserving scenic and recreational resources for public use. In Olmsted’s opinion, the state parks were responsible for education – teaching the public how to use scenic and recreational areas-- and with pursuing direct measures – through land acquisition and park creation or police regulation – to prevent the unwarranted destruction and exploitation of resources.386

In 1921, the state legislature passed portions of a scenic preservation bill. The law empowered the Highway Commission to acquire rights of way within 300 feet of the highway centerline for scenic conservation and planting trees. Pursuant to this law, the Highway Commission began to acquire land for small roadside parks and waysides, and spearheaded roadside beautification projects. The Highway Commission also began acquiring land, primarily close to highways, for a state park system.387

Richard Leiber, head of the National Conference on State Parks, commented on the Oregon Coast Highway and coastal state parks during a 1936 tour of Oregon’s parks. “Here then is a state which takes some 400 miles, leads its highway along the ocean, winds about through groves of marvelous trees and protects the surroundings from artificialities and desecration.” He also stated that, “Here is an American commonwealth that proposes to say that native scenery is sacred, that the people of the state should own this scenery and control it, that it should be preserved for all time to come in its native stateliness.”388

In Clatsop County, the Roosevelt Highway was completed between Astoria and Seaside by the close of 1922, giving the “summer vacationists to the seashore resorts a practically continuous paved highway from Portland to Seaside, and [giving] the people and business interests of Seaside and way points a completed all-year road to Portland.”389 For the first time, the road through Clatsop County to Tillamook was passable at all times in all weather. The 13-mile section between Seaside and Hamlet Junction remained the last unimproved stretch of the highway in Clatsop County.390

In 1925, a new law allowed the Highway Commission to purchase park sites beyond 300-feet from roadways. At this point, the state began establishing larger parks not located directly adjacent to the highway.391

Following the 1927 completion of the highway segment in Lincoln County, the Highway Commission acquired a number of park tracts in this section. Among these was Otter Crest, about 10 miles north of Newport. The Highway Commission purchased the 1.48-acre Otter Crest site from W. S. Badley of Portland for $500.392 This property was notable for its view of the Pacific Ocean and rugged coast line, in what would become a concentrated area of recreation sites, including Otter Crest State Scenic Viewpoint, Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewport, and Devils Punchbowl State Natural Area.

In 1930, as the country entered the Great Depression following the stock market crash of 1929, the Highway Commission “felt the shortage of funds” but their bonded debt from park acquisitions remained the same. Revenue from gas taxes and other sources “decreased to an alarmingly low point”; however, state park development continued. During the 1930s, federal and state agencies intervened with a multitude of aid programs to offset financial shortages, assisting with park acquisition, construction and improvements.393

Samuel H. Boardman, appointed as state parks engineer at the beginning of the Great Depression, took a conservative approach as the program’s superintendent, maintaining a minimal staff and emphasizing land acquisition for the protection of park lands over park infrastructure development.394 He believed that “land should be acquired before it was lost to the public, and betterment would take place later.”395 Along the Oregon Coast, Boardman recognized the unusual situation of a highway along the ocean’s edge and, “while staying within a reasonable distance of the shoreline, he sought to control as much of the coastline as possible” to provide easier public ocean access through the development of coastal state parks.396

The seventeen coastal state parks established during this period were primarily chosen for their scenic qualities and proximity to the highway. Because Boardman focused on land acquisition and not infrastructural development, the early parks are characterized by their undeveloped open space, beach access, and natural surroundings, key features of the highway’s cultural landscape. Most of these parks experienced further development during later historic eras within the highway’s period of significance, most notably through CCC projects to employ work crews in New Deal programs (See Section 7.5), and through Post-World War II park expansions with the construction of overnight camping facilities (See Section 7.6). (See also Appendix D, for a table listing all Coast Highway-associated state parks and their acreage). Within the 1921 to 1932 period, State Park Summaries (below) mainly describe park land acquisition, natural elements, and scenic qualities.

State Park Developments

Ecola State Park (1932-1978), Seaside, Clatsop County

First land acquisition: 451.18 acres in 1932.

Current acreage: 1023.88 acres as of 2015

The state purchased the park’s original 451.18 acres from Ecola Point and Indian Beach Corporation in 1932. The original tract included ocean frontage, extending from the city of Cannon Beach to Indian Beach. The park encompasses Ecola Point and a steep, forested shoreline to Tillamook Head.397 This park was further developed during later periods.

Short Sand Beach (now Oswald West State Park) (1931-1976), Manzanita, Clatsop/Tillamook Counties

The state initially acquired this property through a 120-acre grift in 1931 from E. S. and Mary Collins. The park includes beach access within a backdrop of rugged coastal mountains and features significant historic rock work developed during the WPA era at Neahkahnie Mountain.

Boiler Bay State Scenic Viewpoint (1926-1971), Lincoln Beach/Depoe Bay, Lincoln County

First land acquisition: 5.83 acres in 1926.

Current acreage: 33.05 acres as of 2015

Boiler Bay State Scenic Viewpoint consists of 33.05 acres one mile north of Depoe Bay in Lincoln County. The area is situated on Government Point, a steep rocky bluff that protrudes into the ocean at Boiler Bay opening’s south side. The point offers panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean and the small basalt-rimmed bay. Previously known as Brigg’s Landing, Boiler Bay’s was named for the remnants of the 1910-shipwrecked freighter J. Marhoffer, due to its engine boiler that remains visible at low tide. The park land was purchased from several property owners between 1926 and 1974.398 In January 1926, the state purchased the park’s first land tract, 5.83 acres, from Lumberman’s Trust Company. This park was further improved with visitor amenities during later periods.

Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewpoint (1926-1954), Otter Rock, Lincoln County

First land acquisition: 33.05 acres in 1926.

Current acreage: 58.68 acres as of 2015

Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewpoint occupies both sides of US 101 between Whale Cove and Rocky Creek, about two miles south of Depoe Bay in Lincoln County. The area was named for the small stream that runs parallel to the area’s south boundary. The state bought the original 33.05-acre tract in June 1926 for $600 through the U.S. Indian Agent. In September 1926, the U.S. General Land Office gifted the state another 22.75 acres. The park remained undeveloped until CCC projects were completed between 1934 and 1936.399 The viewpoint provides excellent views of marine life and off-shore rock islets.400 Offshore rocks exhibit “spectacular wave action in storms” and afford nesting areas for birds, sea lions and harbor seals.401 This park was improved with visitor amenities during later periods.

Otter Crest State Scenic Viewpoint (1928), Otter Creek

First land acquisition: 1.48 acres in 1928.

Current acreage: 1.48 acres as of 2015

Otter Crest State Scenic Viewpoint is located at the crest of Cape Foulweather, approximately 10 miles north of Newport in Lincoln County. The 1.48-acre park is named for the sea otters that inhabited the rocks.402 In 1928, Wilbur S. and Florence Badley gifted the land on condition that the state maintain the viewpoint for the public and prohibit concessions, merchandise sales and building construction, although the concession facility was not developed until 1937. The area features Otter Crest, a flat-topped rock that rises over 450 feet above the tide, picturesque panoramic views and a popular whale watching viewpoint. There is a northward view of shoreline and rocky cliffs. Southward, a wide sandy beach stretches from Devil’s Punchbowl to Yaquina Head lighthouse.403 Newspaper reporter Lawrence F. Barber described Otter Crest’s scenic view and features in a 1928 article in The Oregonian: “To the west the Pacific rolls for 6000 miles, with now and then a ship, coastwise bound, on the horizon. To the south are the Elephant rocks, Otter rock and the Devil’s Punchbowl- works of the sea. To the north are rocky promontories. Behind, the mountain rises a thousand feet, timbered and green.”404 This park was improved with visitor amenities during later periods.

Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area (1929-1971), Otter Creek, Lincoln County

First land acquisition: 4.25 acres in 1929.

Current acreage: 8.17 acres as of 2015

Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area is an 8.17-acre area located about one-quarter mile west of US 101 in the Otter Rock community of Lincoln County. The state acquired the initial 4.25-acre tract as a gift from F.W. and C.P. Leadbetter, who had previously allowed a portion of the property to be used as a City Park, according to the Highway Department’s 1926 plans for the park.405 The natural scenic area has a high forested bluff overlooking rocky shoreline. Its most outstanding feature, the Devil’s Punchbowl, is a bowl-shaped cavern on the bluff, in which incoming waves crash with thunderous effect. The park’s north end has a low tide marine garden on the shore, and a long wide sand beach lies south of the bluff. The State Parks website states that during the early 1900s, a long wooden slide, “chute the chutes,” offered access from Otter Rock bluff to the beach.406 Today, a wooden staircase leads to the sand. This park was improved with visitor amenities during later periods.

Seal Rock State Recreation Site/Wayside (1929-1942), Seal Rock, Lincoln County

First land acquisition: 0.24 acres in 1929.

Current acreage: 4.69 acres as of 2015

Seal Rock State Recreation Site lies approximately 10 miles south of Newport in Lincoln County. The beach north of the park area extends to Beaver Creek. Lincoln County gifted the initial land, 0.24 acres, for this state wayside in 1929. The scenic point offers sweeping panoramic views of the ocean and coastline, and the rocky beach south of the use area is accessible by park trail. A ledge of partly submerged basaltic rock formations along the shore is known as Seal Rocks. The state obtained three of the larger rocks -- Castle, Tourist and Elephant --- from the federal government by Act of Congress in 1928. The large off-shore rock formations provide a habitat for seals, sea lions, sea birds and other marine life, and tide pools offer additional opportunities to observe marine life. Developed for day-use, the picnic area is in a stand of shore pine, spruce and salal. This park was improved with visitor amenities during later periods.

Governor Patterson Memorial State Recreation Site (1931), Waldport, Lincoln County

First land acquisition: 9.4 acres in 1931.

Current acreage: 10.23 acres as of 2015

The Governor Patterson Memorial State Recreation Site is about 1.5 miles south of Waldport in Lincoln County, and encompasses the land between US 101 and the Pacific Ocean for nearly a mile. The state purchased the original 9.4 acres in 1931 from Mary E. Patterson and other property owners to create a memorial to the late Governor Isaac L. Patterson. Governor Patterson strongly advocated for park development and scenic preservation, and he appointed the state’s first Park Commission in 1929. This park was improved with visitor amenities during later periods.

Yachats State Park (1928-1986), Yachats, Lincoln County

First land acquisition: Unknown acres in 1928.

Current acreage: 93.33 acres as of 2015

Yachats State Park is located at the west edge of Yachats in Lincoln County, bordering the Yachats River along the ocean shore. Yachats is an Indian word that is believed to mean “at the foot of the mountain,” and Cape Perpetua’s steep face rises just south of Yachats. The state acquired the park land by gifts from Lincoln County and L.P. Gill and through purchase from private owners between 1928 and 1986. The first acquisition included 16 lots from Lumberman’s Trust Company in 1928 for $1,600. Charles A. Lounsburg gifted one lot in 1928, and the state later bought nine additional lots. The entrance road makes a small loop, offering a view of the Yachats River connecting with the Pacific Ocean. Views also include dramatic waves and gray whale migration. This park was improved with visitor amenities later periods.

Devil’s Elbow State Park (Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint) (1930-2001),Lane County

First land acquisition: Unknown acres in 1930

Current acreage: 548.59 acres as of 2015

The Devil’s Elbow State Park (now the Heceta Head Lighthouse State Scenic Viewpoint) is located along the Coast Highway, thirteen miles north of Florence in Lane County. The state acquired the land for the park between 1930 and 1987 through purchases from private owners as well as gifts and exchanges with U.S. government agencies. Journalist Everett Earle Stanard described the area in a 1930 article in The Oregonian: “Heceta head juts out into the surging waters of the Pacific. This promontory, with its lighthouse, caves and rocks, where [sea lions] bask, is visited by recreationists and tourists from far and near.”407 The area was enlarged in the 1980s to include the 1892-93 Heceta Head Lighthouse located north of the park’s original boundary and connect with Washburne State Park.

Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park (1930-1940), Florence vicinity, Lane County

First land acquisition: 163 acres in 1930.

Current acreage: 515.49 acres as of 2015

The Jessie M. Honeyman Memorial State Park is located on both sides of US 101 about two miles south of Florence in Lane County and encompasses over 515 acres. The state purchased the first tract of 163 acres from Rena Robinson for $5,000 in 1930. The park abuts the shores of Woahink and Cleawox Lakes, two natural freshwater lakes used for swimming, boating and water sports. The Canary County road, leading from US 101 to the community of Canary, passes through the park at the north edge of Woahink Lake. Fir, spruce and hemlock trees, as well as salal, thimbleberry, huckleberry and abundant rhododendrons provide park cover for the slightly rolling terrain.408 “In spring the Honeyman Park is a veritable jungle of 30-foot rhododendrons, each with hundreds of clumps of pink blooms.”409

The park honors Jessie Millar Honeyman (1852-1948), who devoted many years advocating for highway beautification, Oregon parks, and scenic conservation.410 The park was touted for illustrating the importance of good roads in creating recreation areas. 411 Langille poetically described Honeyman’s contribution to Oregon’s park system in his summary of the state park:

[She] brought from the highlands of Scotland a love and keen appreciation of the beauty in nature, an appreciation which she so devotedly endeavored by word and deed, to impress upon the minds of the citizens of Oregon, that they might realize the need of the utmost effort in preserving forever the abundant, scenic richness that is one of Oregon’s great and enduring natural heritages.412

This park was improved with visitor amenities during later periods.

Umpqua Lighthouse State Park (1930-late 1950s), Winchester Bay, Douglas County

First land acquisition: (unknown) acres in 1930.

Current acreage: 362.36 acres as of 2015

Umpqua Lighthouse State Park’s north end is located about a mile south of Winchester Bay, and the park stretches for approximately four miles south along the coast in Douglas County. A small portion of the park is situated east of US 101. While the lighthouse itself was built in 1894, the state acquired the land for state park use in 1930. The original park tract extended to the highway and bordered Clear Lake to the east. West of the lake, adjacent to the ocean, sand dunes rise to over 500 feet and widen in the park’s southern portion (Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area). The oceanfront has steep slopes with Sitka spruce, western hemlock and shore pine. Highway vista points provide views of the Umpqua River. The park is named after a local Indian tribe.413 In 1929, The Oregonian described the beach as “very clean and unusually free from wind and fog. At present it can be reached only by boat. Several fine lakes back of [sic] the sand dunes afford excellent fishing and boating.”414 This park was improved with visitor amenities during later periods.

Battle Rock Park (now Battle Rock City Park) (1930-1940) Port Orford, Curry County

First land acquisition: Unknown acres in 1930.

Current acreage: Unknown

Battle Rock Park, a seaside municipal park, is located within the Port Orford city limits in Curry County. The sea stack at the beach’s north end is the site of an 1851 battle between settlers and Indians. In July 1930, the Highway Commission concluded negotiations to purchase the lands fronting Battle Rock.415 Situated in Port Orford’s natural deep water harbor, Battle Rock is approximately 300 feet long, 60 feet wide and 60 feet high at water level. From the park, “a magnificent seaward view can be obtained, the first unobstructed sight of the ocean from the southern part of the Roosevelt highway [later US 101], and Battle rock can be mounted from the beach fronting the park.”416 Subsequent land acquisitions occurred during later periods.

Humbug Mountain State Park (1926-1972), Port Orford vicinity, Curry County

First land acquisition: 30.6 acres in 1926.

Current acreage: 1,842.16 acres as of 2015

Humbug Mountain State Park encompasses over 1,840 acres along both sides of US 101, six miles south of Port Orford in Curry County. The state began acquiring park land for this park in 1926, purchasing 30.6 acres near the mouth of Brush Creek, which bisects the park. In 1931, the state acquired Humbug Mountain through a 290-acre purchase from the General Land Office. The mountain is a prominent geological landmark rising over 1,750 feet above sea level and contains old growth Douglas fir, spruce, grand fir, tan bark, myrtle, alder and cedar. Previously called Sugarloaf Mountain, the mountain’s name changed to Tichenor’s Humbug in 1851 after Captain William Tichenor dispatched an expeditionary party that believed they had reached the mountain’s summit in error.417 The name was later shortened to Humbug. This park was improved with visitor amenities during later periods.

Geisel Monument State Heritage Site (1930-1931) Ophir, Curry County

First land acquisition: 2.15 acres in 1930.

Current acreage: 4.05 acres as of 2015

Geisel Monument State Heritage Site covers over four acres, and is situated five miles north of Wedderburn and seven miles north of Gold Beach in Curry County. In December 1930, the Macleay Estate Company gifted the park’s original 2.15 acres to the state. F.B. and Martha Postel gave an adjoining 1.90 acres to the state in January 1931. This level forested area contains the graves of Oregon pioneer John Geisel, his wife and three sons. Geisel and his sons were killed during the Rogue Indian Wars in 1856. The graves are marked with a monument and surrounded by an iron fence.418 This park was improved with visitor amenities during later periods.

Buena Vista Ocean Wayside State Park/Wayside (1930-1958), Gold Beach vicinity, Curry County

First land acquisition: 6 acres in 1930.

Acreage: 54.86 acres as of 1992419

Buena Vista, Spanish for “beautiful view,” occupies over 54 acres along US 101 approximately three miles south of Gold Beach in Curry County. The state purchased the original six acres of wayside property in 1930 and additional acreage through 1958. “The spectacular views of the ocean and the desire to preserve natural growth along this wayside prompted the Highway Commission to acquire this land.”420 The forested location offers views of Hunter Creek Basin and the Pacific Ocean.421 This park was improved with visitor amenities during later periods.

Cape Sebastian State Scenic Corridor (1925-1963), Gold Beach vicinity, Curry County

First land acquisition: 241.80 acres in 1925.

Current acreage: 1400.8 acres as of 2015

Cape Sebastian occupies over 1,100 acres on both sides of US 101, seven miles south of Gold Beach in Curry County. In 1603, explorer Sebastian Vizcaino spotted the white cliff and promontory, naming it in honor of Saint Sebastian. The state acquired the first land for this park in 1925, purchasing 241.80 acres from George W. Henry.422 The original Coast Highway route, relocated in the 1960s, wound along the hillside at the park’s eastern side, providing visitors an access road to the cape. The area’s rolling terrain features high steep bluffs on the ocean side. The landward portions have old growth Douglas fir, grand fir and shore pine. Cape Sebastian rises above the ocean at its midpoint. Midway between the cape and Hunters Creek, Colvin Wayside is an isolated tract included in the main area. Cape San Sebastian was also known as Hunters Head for its bountiful hunting grounds.423 Retired state parks superintendent Chester H. Armstrong contends that, “The most striking feature of this park is the panoramic view” that on clear days includes Humbug Mountain and Cape Blanco to the north and Point St. George on the California coast to the south.424 This park was improved with visitor amenities during later periods.

Harris Beach State Park (and ODOT Rest Area) (1926-1985), Brookings vicinity, Curry County

First land acquisition: 17.58 acres in 1926.

Current acreage: 174.21 acres as of 2015

Harris Beach State Park, located north of Brookings in Curry County, was named after George Scott Harris, the Scottish sheep and cattle raiser who settled in the area in the late 1880s.425 The state purchased the original 17.58 park acres from Henry Cooper in 1926.426 The park features a rounded, treeless elevation named Signal Knoll. According to State Park Historian W.A. Langille, “Signal Knoll can be counted as a most valuable asset to this park. Its summit, now easily reached by a good foot trail, rises steeply from the edge of the sea and is sufficiently elevated to afford an unobstructed, overlooking view of the superb, offshore maritime panorama, in addition to the interesting coast line and shoreland views of the green, forested hills.”427 The sandy beaches, interspersed with rocky outcroppings, contain tide pools. Sea stacks dot the ocean just off shore. The park draws visitors to witness the dramatic winter storms and to view wildlife, such as gray whales on their winter and spring migrations, Harbor seals, California sea lions, sea birds and marine gardens. The park claims Bird Island (also called Goat Island), which is the largest island off the Oregon coast, a National Wildlife Sanctuary and a breeding ground for rare birds like the tufted puffin.428 This park was improved with visitor amenities during later periods.

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